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Saturday, April 22, 2017

R. I. P. Julia Wagg

Julia Wagg (nee Alarie) was a student in my creative writing class from February to June of 1998.  She was one of the most creative students I ever had the privilege to teach.  She died on April 14; today, her memorial service is being held.

Her obituary ( indicates that she was an extraordinary person, as does this story ( written about her in The Ottawa Citizen.

At the end of each creative writing course, I compiled an anthology featuring the best work of the students.  The anthology of Julia’s class was entitled Playing Famous; six of Julia’s pieces appear in the book. 

In honour of Julia, I’m copying the poem that Julia included in that anthology.  I don’t think she would mind my sharing it.


I am your ugly, ugly instant kid
   By default
   Because it was a cabbage patch
   Full of rejects
   From which you carried me away

Your heart deifying regret
   Since the day
   The papers were signed
   You keep them in a cigar box
   On the top shelf of your closet
   Like the car registration in your
   Glove compartment

And you gladly deny accountability
   For my mistakes –
   Like breathing.
   Blame the genetic Pez dispenser
   For my conduct on this earth

You forget that ownership
   Is nine-tenths of the law

You’d even gnaw your hand off
   That you might trade me in
   A pointless exchange
   Because forsaken
   Was the merchandise
   From conception

The residue of a walking womb
   Afraid to use coat hangers
   For anything but hanging coats

Sympathizing with no one
   Save myself
   Personal pity party

Do unto others
   As you would do unto yourself
   Well, that’s fine for the prophets
   But in suburbia
   Murder isn’t legal

Me, myself, and I
   Rejects are we all

Though she may not have been famous for her writing, Julia was certainly a writer.  Here’s what she wrote one week before she died:  She never lost her skill with words.

Postscript:  I came across an interview with Julia's widow at